And the NAQP 2014 Printer of the Year Is …

The 2014 NAQP Printer of the Year, formerly known as the Quick Printer of the Year, is an honor presented annually to the small commercial printer who exemplifies the best of the industry. It is the highest award the association can bestow. The award is presented in cooperation with Quick Printing magazine and is based on business success, use of new technologies, service to community and industry organizations, and professional and business integrity. The nominee should have:

  • Demonstrated the ability to operate a successful, profitable, market-driven, and customer responsive business.
  • Demonstrated creativity/vision in embracing new technologies, products, and services to maintain competitiveness in the industry.
  • Exhibited service to community groups and industry organizations, thus demonstrating the commitment and vitality of our industry.
  • Served as a role model for future generations of printers by consistently exhibiting professional integrity and business success.

Based on these criteria, the NAQP 2014 Printer of the Year is …

… The Master’s Press of Dallas, TX.

Congratulations, Ms. Sims!

With 2013 annual sales of just under $1 million and 4,000 square feet of production space, The Master’s Press does not look much different from most print shops its size. With eight full-time employees, the Dallas firm houses a pair of Heidelberg Printmaster sheetfed presses, two AB Dick 9800s, a Konica Minolta bizhub PRO 6500 digital color press, and a bizhub PRO 1050 and Canon imageRUNNER 105 for monochrome work. This past January, a bizhub PRESS c8000 was added, reported president/owner Charlene Sims, who has served on the NAQP board for 14 years (including as a past president) as well as on the NAPL board since 2005.

But it’s not equipment that sets The Master’s Press apart. It is killer customer service, according to Sims, who started the company in 1976 when she was only 25 years of age. “I had a great mentor in former owner Don Brewer, who sold the business.” Sims worked for the new owner for a while before branching off on her own. “What Don taught me was to treat your customer like royalty, which really fits my personality,” she recalled.

What was it like for a twenty-something woman growing up in this industry in the late 1970s? “I was a single lady, not college educated, and in a man’s world of printing. Suffice it to say that a lot of people did not take me seriously,” Sims said. She had to endure her fair share of patronizing “pats on the head” and more than a few “aren’t-you-cute” comments.

Some people started to take notice when sales leaped from $4,000 per month to $10,000 monthly within the first five months of Sims taking over. “That was a lot of money in the mid-1970s,” she pointed out. Sims joined the National Association of Quick Printers in 1977, embracing peer sharing and the input of fellow printers. Her former partner, Dick Brooks, also was a positive influence as he refined her education on the business side of running a printing company. (Sims says she has worked in every aspect of the print shop.)

“I also learned the business side from NAQP,” she admitted, “through seminars and pricing studies. NAQP taught me about cost centers and where I needed to be with regard to sales per employee.” The Master’s Press annual sales had grown to $1.4 million prior to the 2008 recession, she reported. Her three rules of serving customers are basic, in many ways:

  1. “When anybody walks in the door, greet them warmly with a smile,” she urges. “It sounds simple, but I’m amazed by how many people in other businesses don’t bother to do this.”
  2. “Listen to what their needs are and respond. Don’t just try to sell them what you want.”
  3. “Operate with a genuinely heartfelt attitude of caring.”

In 2011, Sims was recognized as an Honorary Lifetime Member of NAPL/NAQP. This year, for the second consecutive year, she is co-chairing the conference committee for the NAQP 2014 Owners Conference, which takes place later this month, a few days before GRAPH EXPO kicks off.